Can Inflammation Cause Obesity?
This week’s In-depth blog is written by Gavin Aquila on the link between gut health and obesity.
'Does obesity cause inflammation or does inflammation cause obesity?
The focus this week is a key factor that needs to be addressed for anyone wanting to lose weight, improve metabolic disease, suffers from depression or just wants to get healthy.
'Did you know there are approximately 30 trillion cells that make up the human body BUT at a minimum there are 40 trillion bacteria that co inhabit the human body'.
The focus sections for today are:
What is the microbiome?
1. What roles does your gut microbiome undertake in your body?
2. Obesity is and inflammatory disease
3. Inflammation, obesity and gut health
4. What can I do to improve gut health, inflammation and in turn obesity?
5. How do I measure levels of gut bacteria and inflammation?
What is the microbiome?
The mirobiome are the bacteria, fungi, archaea and viruses that live on and inside our body and through our digestive tract. They are not part of our body but co-exist with us.
You may have heard a segment of this being area being described as gut health, my gut bacteria, my gut microbiome.
These bacteria play a significant role in bodily functions such as, digesting your food, controlling your appetite, regulating your metabolism, influencing your mood and immune system. Pretty damn important.
When you have looked at a diet or eating plan, have you thought... How will this affect my gut health, my gut bacteria, my microbiome?'
We start our life with only about 22,000 human genes, via our microbiome we acquire another approximately 3,000,000 genes. Our own genes change slowly from generation to generation, but the genetic composition of your microbiome can change rapidly, within 24 hours stress, antibiotics or major illness can imbalance your microbiome.
A healthy adult human typically has about 1000 species of bacteria belonging to just a few groupings. The two most common groups are Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. A higher ratio of bacteroidetes to firmicutes is desirable. The number of species in the gut is much more diverse than other sites of the body. With this said, there is great diversity in the composition from one healthy human to the next.
What roles does your gut microbiome undertake in your body?
'Obesity is an inflammatory disease'
The microbiome has many roles in the human body, it assists in the digestion of food, it assists the immune system in functioning properly, it assists in controlling inflammation and inflammatory diseases, obesity being one of these.
The gut microbiota is an integral part of digestion and can liberate nutrients from foods that would be otherwise indigestible by humans. Some examples are xyloglucans are commonly found in dietary vegetables such as lettuce and onions, or short chain fatty acids (SCFA) found from indigestible dietary fibres. These SCFA are an important source of energy for the intestinal mucosa and are essential for modulating immune responses and tumour causing agents in the gut.
There are many and varied interactions between our microbiota and the human immune system. The immune system must learn how to tolerate the fecal microbiota and the microbiota teach the immune system how to function properly.
The mircobiota influences the balancing of the immune system from both inside and outside the gut. The more we learn about this, the better we will be able to address the treatment of inflammatory disorders and diseases that the microbiota has a direct impact upon. Some of these conditions include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, some cancers, the common gastro bug and most importantly for us obesity.
Inflammation, obesity and gut health?
Obesity is an inflammatory state. This inflammation is a low-level inflammation that can be detected in blood tests.
There are many causes of this inflammation, the two we are going to focus on here are:
● Fat cells and their signallers called cytokines
● Inflammation of the gut lining (leaky gut) due to gut microbiome imbalance
Fat cells produce chemical signallers called cytokines, some of these increase the bodies inflammatory response. The increase in the inflammatory cytokines, is as a response to overfed fat cells and fat cells that are dying. This inflammation can then have a flow on effect by negatively impacting the bodies response to appetite hormones such as leptin and insulin.
Your gut microbiome is the first point of contact our food has with our body. By eating potentially inflammatory foods, we can create an imbalance in our gut microbiome and inflammation in our gut, called leaky gut.
Leaky gut, simply means, our intestinal wall allows molecules through that are not completely digested, along with harmful chemicals that can impact hormones. The partially digested molecules are identified as pathogens and our body attacks them. This results in this low-grade inflammation in our blood stream, that effects our appetite hormones amongst many other bodily systems.
If a you have been overweight for a while, it is a fair assumption that you may have leaky gut, their gut microbiome is imbalanced, and you have low grade levels of inflammation in your blood stream.
'So, the question is, does obesity cause the inflammation or does the inflammation cause obesity?'
This question has not been completely answered by science yet but as a weight loss specialist, we must consider all of the above and work on creating a non-inflammatory environment.
One of the first places we should consider for reducing inflammation, is our gut microbiota. This should be a starting point for your nutritional intervention.
Further reasons for addressing the gut microbiota include the impact of gut microbiota on emotional state, leaky gut and the impact on thyroid hormones and the conversion of T4 to the active T3, cancer and further inflammatory diseases.
What can I do to improve gut health, inflammation and in turn obesity?
Foods to reduce -
● Fried Foods.
● Refined Flour.
● Artificial Sweeteners.
● Artificial Additives.
● Saturated Fats
● Processed meats
● Traditional grain fed meats
● Excess alcohol
Foods to include -
● Fermented vegetables, sauerkraut and kimchi
● Fermentable fibers like cassava, sweet potato, or plantains
● Fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir
● Bone broths
● Hemp oil
● Wild-caught salmon
● Soaked walnuts
● Onions and garlic.
● Ginger, cinnamon and tumeric
There is a two-way relationship between gut microbiome and stress. By improving our gut microbiome we can improve our ability to tolerate life stress. By reducing life stress our gut microbiome maintains a positive ratio of good to bad bacteria. So, addressing this from both directions is essential.
Antibiotics, work to kill the bad bacteria that cause us to get sick but, in the process,, kill the good bacteria as well. Minimising or avoiding antibiotics where possible is ideal.
How do I measure levels of gut bacteria and inflammation?
For your gut microbiome you can get a fecal microbial analysis (FMA) test done. This is a test that is facilitated by a doctor or naturopath's pathology referral. The test is normally a few hundred pounds.
To measure your level of inflammation, you can simply get a blood test done. One of the major markers of inflammation is elevated C Reactive Protein (CRP), you can also test for Tumour necrosis factor TNF alpha and Interlukin 6.
Even if you do not get the tests done, there is nothing harmful by looking at including more anti-inflammatory foods and less inflammatory foods. In fact it is the best place to start and should be considered when looking at any eating plan.
Three great resources for some further reading on gut microbiome:
Thyroid and gut microbiome - https://chriskresser.com/your-gut-microbes-and-your-thyroid-whats-the-connection/
Stress and the gut microbiome - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352289516300509
The gut microbiome in health and disease - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352289516300509
Anti-inflammatory food shopping infographic https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/infographics/ultimate-anti-inflammatory-shopping-list-infographic/
Some of these get a little bit technical but the deeper understanding is critical at this point if you are looking to lose weight.
Adelaide Brooks is a Certified Personal Trainer and Life Coach with a Degree in Sports and Exercise Science and a Masters in Psychology. She has over 20 years’ experience as a trainer in the medical, pharmaceutical and fitness industry.
If you would like to book a body transformation training session with Adelaide please look at the services page